One of Tucson’s newest additions, the Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar takes students beyond the brick buildings and grassy mall of UA’s campus to Tucson’s eclectic community filled with restaurants, boutiques and local hangouts.
Tucson’s year-old “Made in America” streetcar has had more than 50 restaurants, bars and cafes open along its route in the last two years and is Tucson’s largest construction project to-date, according to the streetcar website. The year-long construction of the streetcar created 500 construction jobs, and 100,000 people work and live within a half-mile of its route. With stops on campus, it’s an easy, safe and convenient method for getting to class, work or hanging out with friends.
The streetcar makes stops every 10 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day and day of the week. Meghan Witteman, a junior studying philosophy, politics, economics and law, said the streetcar can save those students living off campus hundreds of dollars in parking expenses.
Sun Link offers a variety of ticket options such as a 24-hour SunGO ticket for $4 and a reloadable SunGO Card that allows riders to add passes and cash to the card. Riders may add a seven-day pass to the SunGO Card for $13 or a 30-day pass for $42.
Witteman takes advantage of U-Pass, a pass discounted specifically for UA students that provides “unlimited rides on the Sun Link streetcar, Sun Tran [bus], and select Sun Shuttle routes,” according to Parking and Transportation Services. For one semester, U-Pass costs $87 and costs $207 for an annual pass. By using U-Pass, students save 50 percent off regular Sun Tran fares.
The streetcar’s 3.9-mile route travels through the best parts of Tucson’s nightlife. Fourth Avenue and Congress Street are sprinkled with restaurants, bistros, clubs, modern and vintage boutiques, and even salons.
Shannon Riggs, owner of Pop-Cycle, a quirky shop that sells everything from locally made soap to art made from recycled items, said “The streetcar route is a great way to explore all the coolest parts of town. You can really find almost everything you need along the route.”
Riggs encourages incoming freshmen to add a splash of Tucson’s culture to their dorm rooms at Pop-Cycle.
Just across the street from Pop-Cycle is the famous burger joint, Lindy’s on 4th. Lindy’s caters to the college crowd with specialty hamburgers embellished with outrageous toppings. The restaurant even earned a feature on Travel Channel’s "Man v. Food."
In the downtown district, Congress Street is bustling with activity and contains many places to explore. Margo Susco, UA alumna and owner of pin-up-meets-punk-rock boutique Hydra, said it’s important for students to familiarize themselves with the area. Susco suggests riding the streetcar for fun and using it as a tour of Tucson’s downtown.
“[The streetcar] opens up a whole new world, especially in the vicinity of right where you are,” she said.
Just as other Wildcats will advise, it’s important to keep up on studying and relax when school gets stressful or overwhelming. Sparkroot, a coffee bar on Congress Street along the streetcar route, is “a true-blue favorite among UA students,” according to founder Ari Shapiro. “It’s the perfect place to relax and energize with work and friends.”
Witteman, a fellow Wildcat, leaves incoming freshmen and new streetcar riders alike with a helpful tip.
“When school starts, or during midterms and finals, the streetcar gets packed [during popular class times] such as 9 a.m.,” she said. She recommends leaving extra time to catch the streetcar, which will take students to class a little early in order to beat the rush.